Families Shocked After Seeing ‘Dump’ At Cemetery

August 27, 2009
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image Becky Cone is shocked and saddened. A staff member directed her to a back corner of Riverside Memorial Park to search for mementos that once adorned her daughter’s grave site. “Her daughter put out some praying hands and they were gone. The marker was gone. It’s not like I put it out there one day and the next day they took it. It’s been there like four years,” Cone told First Coast News’ Erich Spivey.

Riverside Memorial Park gathered all the items and put them in a back corner; families call it a dump. Trinkets, memories and photos are scattered for family members to pick through.

“I’m sitting here trying to find a replica of my daughter. Something that symbolized something from me to her. And I was digging in garbage for it,” Cone says.

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The funeral home declined to talk on camera, referring us to a spokesperson in Texas. She told us that each quarter, workers clear all the items from the grave sites, mark them and allow the families to pick it up for 30 days. But the families we talked to say that’s not happening and they’re shocked by the results.

Mary Cohick says, “If I could dig my husband up and bury him in my backyard, I would. … If something isn’t done I will have my whole family up here picketing. There’s no respect.”

A sign warns lot owners only floral arrangements are allowed. But families say that rule hasn’t been enforced for years.

Jennie Roberts of Service Corporation International, the owner of the cemetery, wrote in response to questions, “Certain grave decorations may present safety hazards to our grounds workers who operate mowers. … Our cemetery requires us to maintain consistent standards of appearance.”

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